Some argue that it helps listeners keep track of what they’ve listened to and what they haven’t, while others argue that it clutters up the title and can be confusing for new listeners. In fact, one quick Google of the question ‘Should I include episode numbers in podcast title,’ gives a lot of opinions that come down very hard of one side or the other of this debate.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of including episode numbers in your podcast titles and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and target audience. So, whether you’re a podcaster looking to improve your show’s discoverability or a listener trying to find your next favourite podcast, read on to learn more about the role of episode numbers in podcast titles.
The pros of including episode numbers in your podcast titles
Many podcasters swear by including episode numbers in their podcast titles.
Here are some of the pros of including episode numbers:
1. It helps listeners keep track of episodes
One of the most significant benefits of including episode numbers in your podcast titles is that it helps listeners keep track of the episodes they’ve already listened to.
When podcast titles include episode numbers, it’s easy for listeners to identify which episode they’re currently listening to and which ones they’ve already listened to. This is particularly helpful for listeners who are catching up on an older podcast or binging a new one.
In his latest newsletter, Adam Schaeuble of Podcasting Business School certainly listed this as one of his top pros, citing that it’s easier to direct listeners to an episode number than a title. And to be honest, we can’t disagree with him there. Especially if you’ve got an extensive back catalogue of episodes.
We’re time-poor in 2023 and want everything as quickly as possible, so if you can scroll to an easily identifiable numbered episode, this is a lot easier than searching for a title which could be similar to another episode title.
2. It adds a sense of continuity
Including episode numbers in your podcast titles can also add a sense of continuity to your show.
They can help listeners understand the order in which episodes were released and can provide context for ongoing discussions or storylines. This continuity can help build a loyal fan base and keep listeners engaged over time.
Cons of including episode numbers in your podcast titles
While including episode numbers in podcast titles has its benefits, there are also cons to consider.
Here are some of the downsides of including episode numbers:
1. It can make titles too long
Including episode numbers in podcast titles can make them unnecessarily long, which can be a turnoff for some listeners.
Long titles can be difficult to read and may not display properly on smaller screens. Additionally, long titles can make it challenging to fit in additional information, such as guest names or topics covered in the episode.
2. It may not be necessary for all podcasts
Including episode numbers in podcast titles may not be necessary for all podcasts.
For example, if your podcast is more of a talk show format, including episode numbers may not be relevant. Similarly, if your podcast is more thematic and not necessarily chronological, including episode numbers may not add value to your titles.
Listener preferences when it comes to episode numbers in your podcast titles
Ultimately, whether or not to include episode numbers in podcast titles depends on listener preferences. Some listeners prefer to see episode numbers in titles, while others find them unnecessary or even confusing. It’s important to consider your target audience and what they are looking for in a podcast title.
One way to gauge listener preferences is to conduct a survey or poll among your current listeners. This can help you understand whether or not including episode numbers in your titles is important to them. You can also look at other podcasts in your genre to see if they include episode numbers in their titles and how their listeners respond.
Tips on creating effective podcast titles
Whether or not you decide to include episode numbers in your podcast titles, it’s essential to create titles that are engaging, memorable, and relevant to your target audience. Here are my top tips on creating effective podcast titles:
1. Keep it short and sweet
As mentioned earlier, long titles can be a turnoff for listeners. Keep your titles short, sweet, and easy to skim read when your listener is choosing an episode to listen to.
2. Make it memorable
A memorable title can help your podcast stand out from the crowd.
Consider using puns, alliteration, or other creative techniques to make your titles more memorable.
3. Reflect the content of the episode
Your podcast title should accurately reflect the content of the episode.
Avoid misleading titles that don’t accurately represent what listeners can expect to hear in the episode.
On this note, it’s ok to include the name of a guest in your title (if you had a guest!), but don’t just call the episode title the guest’s name. Why? Because this doesn’t tell the listener what the episode is about at all.
For example, if I interviewed Jon Bon Jovi for my podcast (I can wish, eh?), titling the episode ‘Jon Bon Jovi’ doesn’t mean much. Did we talk about his career in rock music? His political opinions? His charity work? What would make more sense is having a title that tells the audience what they will be listening to and with who. For example: ‘Looking Back on a Career in Music – with Jon Bon Jovi.’ It tells you what to expect in the episode, plus who will be interviewed.
4. Use keywords
Using keywords in your podcast titles can help improve search engine optimisation and make it easier for listeners to find your episodes.
Use relevant keywords that accurately reflect the content of the episode.
The keyword (no pun intended) here is ‘relevant.’ Don’t keyword stuff to try and rank higher as this can make your work confusing to listeners. Write naturally whilst including keywords; the algorithms will get what your episode is about – they’re pretty smart these days!
Advice for using episode numbers in your podcast titles
If you do decide to go down the route of numbering your podcast titles, here are some practices to consider:
- Don’t go with the approach of writing ‘Episode 457: INSERT TITLE HERE.’ You’re clogging up valuable space on a sometimes small screen (remember, a lot of people listen to podcasts on their phones!) and potentially losing the actual title to your listener.
- Don’t exchange the word ‘episode’ for an acronym of your podcast name. It’s just confusing and doesn’t mean much to anyone.
- Do use the number followed by the episode title.
Here are some examples using the above advice in practice:
✅ 635: The best podcast episode in the world
❌ Episode 635: The best podcast episode in the world
❌ TLGGTP 635: The best podcast episode in the world
(If you didn’t guess, TLGGTP is The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Podcasting. But it looks messy and unnecessary.)
The importance of consistency in podcast titles
Consistency is key when it comes to podcast titles. Whether or not you include episode numbers, it’s important to keep your titles consistent from episode to episode. This consistency can help build brand recognition and make it easier for listeners to find and identify your podcast.
How to decide whether to include episode numbers in your podcast titles
Deciding whether or not to include episode numbers in your podcast titles can be challenging. To make an informed decision, consider the following factors:
1. Your target audience
Consider your target audience and what they are looking for in a podcast title. If your audience values continuity and keeping track of episodes, including episode numbers may be beneficial.
2. Your podcast format
Consider your podcast format and whether or not episode numbers are relevant. If your podcast is more thematic or doesn’t follow a chronological format, including episode numbers may not add value.
3. Listener preferences
Finally, if you’re really stuck in deciding to include numbers in your podcast titles, consider listener preferences and conduct a survey or poll to gauge your listener’s opinions on including episode numbers in your titles.
In conclusion, including episode numbers in podcast titles has both pros and cons.
While it can help listeners keep track of episodes, it can also make titles long, and be confusing for new listeners. You’ve probably already noticed that this is something that I just don’t bother with for either The Confident CEO or The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Podcasting. This is a personal decision because I prefer to go with a title only. But, as my back catalogue grows, who knows, maybe I will be a convert to adding episode numbers in the titles!
Ultimately, the decision to include episode numbers in your titles should be based on your target audience, podcast format, and listener preferences.
By creating engaging and consistent podcast titles, you can build a loyal listener base and stand out in the crowded podcasting landscape.